Pasco School Board gives go-ahead to dress code changes at Ridgewood High, Hudson Elementary
The Pasco County School Board has given its tentative support to what would be the district's first student uniforms, as proposed by Hudson Elementary School.
The board also signaled its initial backing for a strict new dress code at Ridgewood High School, after principal Angie Murphy agreed to allow single-color knee-length dresses and skirts.
Some students had suggested a proposed dress ban at the school would discriminate against girls, a position that board member Cynthia Armstrong echoed during a Tuesday workshop.
"It's important that girls be allowed to dress as girls if they prefer," Armstrong said, further noting that girls would be ill advised to go to a job or college interview wearing a polo shirt and jeans.
Board members had raised concerns that the two proposals, offered to create a sense of school belonging and an increased focus on academics, did not have full school and community buy-in.
"The biggest hurdle (will be) to get the others involved and on board," board member Steve Luikart said.
But on the whole, the board applauded the two schools' initiatives to change their climate and their outcomes. Each has fared poorly in recent accountability reviews.
Hudson Elementary received an F in recent school grades, while Ridgewood got a D. Hudson officials go to the State Board of Education on Wednesday to seek approval of their turnaround plan.
The principal of each school said their percentages of on-track students are low, with discipline numbers too high.
"I think it will be an improvement," board member Alison Crumbley said. "This is, I think, a great thing to try to do."
Hudson's plan would have all children wear red or blue polo shirts, and khaki or blue pants, shorts or skirts. Community business partners have donated shirts for families that cannot afford them, and parents would have the ability to opt out of the requirement.
Ridgewood would more strictly limit student dress options, with students wearing polo shirts and khaki, blue or black pants. It would allow certain dresses and skirts, as well as more formal clothing such as shirts and ties with slacks. It would not have an opt-out provision, while also giving students until Oct. 18 to participate fully.
Each effort would be a one-year pilot program, if the School Board approves the final details at an Aug. 2 meeting.
"It may succeed, or we may find out parents don't have any interest," Armstrong said.
But if they don't try, Hudson principal Dawn Scilex said, "we don't know if it's something to help" the schools move forward.